Careful righteousness

Jesus expects us to do works of righteousness. Our righteousness must go far beyond that of practitioners of religion, in order to enter God’s kingdom, Matthew 5.20. One way in which it must go beyond is in a superior motivation behind it.

“Be careful not to display your righteousness merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven” Matthew 6.1.

In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, the Lord Jesus cites three examples of righteousness that we must practice: giving, prayer, and fasting. Continue reading “Careful righteousness”

Inner lamp focus

If we pause long enough to take inventory of our lives, why get up in the morning? What drives our lives? Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is both frank and realistic. People embody different answers.

Whatever driving force might guide our life, Jesus called it our “lamp.” He then drilled down into the profound significance of how our lamp impacts us.  Isn’t that just like him?
Continue reading “Inner lamp focus”

What do you worry about?

It seems that no matter when or where people live, they worry. Sometimes you get the idea that people like to worry – and possibly wouldn’t know what to do if they couldn’t!

Last year, The Independent newspaper in Great Britain interviewed 20,000 people to discover what it was that people in 2015 worried about. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the list is not too different from what Jesus talked about in Matthew 6. Continue reading “What do you worry about?”

No happiness down the rabbit hole

“…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

I met a man a few years ago who said of the Declaration of Independence phrase, “…the pursuit of happiness,” that he didn’t really believe in that. He did believe, however, in the pursuit of “satisfaction.” Notwithstanding, the “happiness” phrase that made it to the final draft actually replaced a line about the right to own property, which is an interesting alternative.

Be that as it may, it seems that most people do want to find happiness, or peace, or satisfaction – whatever you want to call it – in life. It seems to be a primary motive for much of what people do. Even evil deeds are often done under the motive of personal peace or satisfaction. People generally do what they think will bring them the most happiness in life. Continue reading “No happiness down the rabbit hole”

Difficult people

Jesus taught that how we handle difficult people contributes either toward our lives collapsing or remaining firm. If we have sung the childhood song about the wise man who built his house upon a rock, then we realize just how serious Jesus is in the Sermon on the Mount.

What might not immediately come to mind are the many types of troublesome people Jesus described in that lesson. Jesus runs through a familiar list of faces. Continue reading “Difficult people”

Where's the Treasure?

Although many people might nod a glassy-eyed acknowledgment that we need to comply with Jesus’ teaching to lay up treasure in heaven as the self-vindicating rationalization of “yeah, I’m doing some of that” passes through their mind, Jesus’ subsequent teachings can startle lethargy like salt in an open wound. Sitting on a mountainside teaching the crowds, Jesus flayed open our inner workings in such a way which can sting because we know it rings true. Matthew 6:19-24 Since people treasure (love, serve and worship) whatever they believe takes care of them, some people serve the created order and accordingly seek … Continue reading Where's the Treasure?